Published Aug 09, 2018When Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) get cornered into delivering a package to a cafe in Vienna for her secret agent ex-boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux), the duo find themselves in the middle of an international espionage plot they are not prepared for.
Directed by Susanna Fogel, The Spy Who Dumped Me could easily have fallen into the painful territory of two helpless women lost and confused in a world (and genre) they don't usually take up space in. Instead, Fogel creates a "fish out of water" comic engine that blends action and romantic comedy, finding humour in the tropes of both. She also makes sure to include a handful of more competent high-powered women kicking ass in their respective roles, such as Gillian Anderson as a sleek international intel boss.
Once they arrive in Europe, Audrey and Morgan face assassins, car chases and torture. The graphic violence of the action sequences can feel somewhat jarring, but there is something to be said for the way the film insists on them. By refusing to shy away from carefully choreographed fight scenes and inventive gore, Fogel challenges what audiences are conditioned to expect from a best-gal-pal flick.
Where the film lags is in some of its background details: the plot behind the espionage (protecting a flash drive) remains fairly vague throughout the film, and who is "good" and "bad" shifts around often and rests primarily on the crutch of U.S. v. Russia tensions. The comedy, as well, occasionally falls short by relying on toilet humour and dumb gags.
The Spy Who Dumped Me may be far from a cinematic masterpiece, but the accomplishment of blending action, a genre which relies on heightened stakes, with comedy, intended to relieve tension, is still something noteworthy. The relatability and strength of the women's friendship drives the film, and while Audrey feels like she could be one of a handful of Kunis's previous rom com leading ladies, Kate McKinnon is larger than life. Her character is caring, unapologetic and has enough strength and charm to carry the film through its weaker moments.